In the first six months of 2020, people lost the record $117 million to online romance scams. Online dating scams take place when someone tricks you into thinking you’re in a genuine relationship with them. This person is using a fake identity to win your trust. In the end, it’s all about gaining access to your money.
Unfortunately, many people have been part of this ‘happily never after’ story. The average loss to a romance scam was $2,600 in 2018, which is seven times higher than for all other types of scams. In 2019, romance scams also involved cryptocurrency scams, incurring the biggest losses to victims.
What Reveals a Romance Scammer?
While the warning signs of a scam are always there, they can be hard to recognize because emotions are involved. Typically, people display various photos on their dating profiles. Some of them may show the person’s face, while others might show their whole body. Dating site users might also include links to their social media profiles.
Bare profiles, on the other hand, rouse suspicion. To get more information, you might ask them what their interests and hobbies are and share some of yours. If theirs are the same as yours, this could be a red flag.
They’re Stationed Abroad
One of the telltale signs of a scam is the person claiming to be stationed abroad. Specifically, they may claim they are deployed overseas or a member of the armed forces. Alternatively, they may tell you that they are employed on an oil rig, working as a doctor in an international organization, or on a construction project abroad, etc.
It’s Moving too Fast
Online scammers are pressed for time. They don’t want you to catch on to their schemes, so they will be quick to profess their love, promise to meet you in person, or even ask you to marry them. Furthermore, they will want to move your interaction off the platform. Many dating sites offer security features and you would lose that protection if your communication moves away from them. Communicating by Skype, chat, email, or text is far less safe.
If a scammer gets your phone number, cutting off communication will be more difficult. They might start calling you from an anonymous number or give your number to scammers to get back at you for cutting them off.
The Conversation Doesn’t Make Sense
Normally, conversations have sense and flow. If your conversations with someone you met online don’t make sense, this could indicate a red flag. You should watch for poor spelling and grammar or for very general messages that could be copied and pasted to be sent to multiple people.
They Promise to Visit but Never Do
Scammers will promise to visit you as a way to stop you from questioning their identity. However, as they have no intention of revealing it, they will always have an excuse for why they did not show up. Most commonly, they’ll say they don’t have enough money to buy a plane ticket and ask you for money. However, you should never give them money for plane tickets or for anything else they say they need. This includes visa or passport fees, medical costs, or debt.
Moreover, you should not accept money from them, either – this is also a common scam. They might ask for your bank account info to make a deposit and then ask you to send the funds to someone else. Furthermore, the plan could be connected to money laundering.
Payment methods such as wire transfers, gift cards, or a newly opened account in your name are difficult to reverse and trace. What’s more, they help the scammer remain anonymous while quickly gaining access to your money. You might agree to send them some money, but they will inevitably ask you for more. When you refuse, they’ll likely persist and might even become aggressive.
Scam Susceptibility Risk
Statistics show the susceptibility risk of online dating scams is 54%. In other words, over half of all scam attempts are successful. Therefore, it is important to learn to recognize the warning signs so you don’t find yourself among the many scam victims.